Sunday, 7 April 2013

Destiny: a path created

||Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||

Aum Namo Narayanaya

At this very moment, as I pen this blog -as certain as the sun rises in the east-, we can be assured that there are hundreds of thousands of people who are weeping on account of failed relationships, being hurt by a special person or even at the death of someone close. Everyday people go to bed or arise crying on account of this attachment or bond to someone, that has been broken. Our very ignorance of the nature of this universe and its laws is what solely contributes to the emotional ache that parasitically inhabits our being to such an extent that it ends in tragic circumstances in some cases. Proof of this glares us in the face when we read the daily newspaper or watch the news: the amount of divorces, quarrels before the court and the huge amount of suicides.

The irony of all this news is that it is full of worldly ignorance. I recall how Sri Ramakrishna refused to sit in a devotee’s house until the newspaper which was nearby was removed because it was full of worldliness. Going forward for many people is extremely difficult, hence the tragic endings and painful lives they lead thereafter. The only solution to this dilemma is to educate humanity of the true nature and laws of the universe.

In the ensuing week, Hindus throughout the world will prepare themselves by engaging in austerities and satsangh in commemoration of Ramayan Week, culminating in the birth anniversary of Lord Rama. The wonderful concept of studying the life of Lord Rama in the Ramayana gives the devotee an enlightened appreciation for Sri Rama as a son, brother, husband, ruler and father. The word Ramayana translates into Rama meaning ‘pleasing’ and ayana meaning ‘path’ – the path to joy or rejoicing.

The Ramayana remains eternally relevant because it delves into challenges that are affecting society in this very day. The style and language is easy and falls within the grasp and understanding of the common man... placing the goal of joy within sight.

I would like to expose the theme of karmic action which relates to my opening remarks as expounded by the Ramayana. If we understand this law of karma, we would be in a position to accept the consequences of them more gracefully... and sometimes we find that it can very well assist in our liberation, as seen in the case of Ravana.

Mythology explains (from internet): The daughter of the rishi Kusadhwaja, son of Brihaspati refers... When Ravana was passing through a forest in the Himalaya, he met with Vedavati - a damsel of great beauty dressed in ascetic garb. He fell in love and tried to win her. She told him that Gods and Gandharvas had sought to woo her, but her father would give her to no one but Vishnu, whom he desired for his son-in-law. Provoked at this resolution, Sambhu – the King of the Daityas, slew her father; but she remained firm to her father's wish, and practiced austerities to gain Vishnu for her spouse. Not daunted, Ravana urgently pressed his suit, and boasted that he was superior to Vishnu. He then touched her hair with the tip of his finger. This greatly incensed her, and she forthwith cut off her hair, and said she would enter into the fire before his eyes, adding: "Since I have been insulted in the forest by thee who art wicked-hearted, I shall be born again for thy destruction." So she entered the blazing fire and celestial flowers fell all around. It was she who was born again as Sita, and was the moving cause of Ravana's death.

In another incident: Dasaratha had killed a young boy named Shravan mistaking him to be an elephant. Dasaratha who was then a crown prince had gone hunting on the banks of river Sarayu. He was an expert in hunting by determining the direction of sound and heard the gurgle of an animal drinking water. Mistaking it to be an elephant, Dasaratha shot the arrow. He became mortified when he heard a human cry as the arrow found its target. Dasaratha hurried there to find a boy lying sprawled on the banks of the river with an arrow lodged in his chest. The boy rebuked Dasaratha for his unrighteous act and demanded that he pull the arrow out of his chest. He also told him to take the pitcher of water to his blind parents who must be waiting for him. The boy died. Dasaratha approached the blind couple and told them about his unfortunate death. The parents, grief-stricken, cursed the prince: “Just as we are dying due the separation from our beloved son, you too shall have the same fate”.

It is interesting to note how these actions played such a pivotal role in fanning out the events in the Ramayana. In Hinduism, all the karmic action that we accumulate is collectively called sunchita karma. Those that are ripe and ready to be enacted out in this life is called prarabdha karma. Sri Ramakrishna talked with His devotees about the pleasure and pain one has to go through during his lifetime because of his prarabdha karma (past actions).

Sri Ramakrishna said:

The fact is that pleasure and pain are the characteristics of embodiment. In Kavi Kankan’s ‘Chandi’ it is narrated that Kalubir was sent to jail and stones were placed on his chest. Though Kalubir was a highly favoured child of Bhagavati… when one takes up a body, one takes pleasures and pains with it.

The fact is that one reaps the fruit of one’s prarabdha karma. One has to remain in a body till one’s past actions are not cleared. Once, a blind man had a dip in the Ganga - he was freed from all his sins. But his blindness did not get cured (all laugh). It was the fruit of his actions in his past life, so he had to bear it.

Whatever be the pleasure and pain of the body, the spiritual knowledge of a bhakta and the wealth of his bhakti lasts. This treasure is never lost. Just see what calamities the Pandavas suffered! But they never lost their spiritual consciousness even once amidst their troubles.

Since there is no immunisation against our past karma, the only relief or antibiotic against the karma is to take the divine name of God. The sweet name of God -although cannot erase- can create an opportunity for your liberation. In the case of Ravana, we find that he had to be slain because of his past actions... but through his constant thinking and mentioning of his enemie’s name Rama - who was the Lord Himself, He was actually liberated at his death.

Let us take the name of God and rejoice at every moment, even in the face of challenges due to our past karma, is my sincere prayer.

With love and prayers always

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